Dear Rachel,

My daughter is single, unemployed and just found out she is pregnant. She is twenty-one years old, a legal adult, and she has decided that she is going to have an abortion. So far nothing I have said can convince her that this is the wrong decision. Our rabbi has spoken to her about the perspective of Jewish law and philosophy, but she is dealing with this only emotionally, and I don't know how else to get through to her. My greatest fear is that if she goes through with this it will be something she will never be able to forgive herself for. It will be a regret she won't be able to fix. Is there anything I can do to help her? Anything I can do to stop this? Please help.

Distraught Mom

Dear Distraught Mom,

Watching your child in pain is extremely painful for a parent. But watching your child make a permanent and everlasting decision that is destructive is absolutely excruciating. For starters, it is vital that you try to have your daughter clarify why she doesn't want to have this baby so that you can see what the options are. If her concern is that she won't be able to care for the child, then you must help her figure out how she can provide or others can provide for the baby from an emotional and financial point of view. And there are resources that can help with this as well.

If she is not interested in keeping the baby, then perhaps she can be convinced to give her baby to a family that is desperate for children. With this, however, it is vital that her baby be placed with a Jewish family as this will be a Jewish baby. There are also organizations and resources, such as the Jewish Children's Adoption Network, and Embrace a Jewish Child, that are available to help place babies with Jewish families that are yearning for a child. At the Chai Adoption Network there is a social worker available 24 hours a day to speak with the birth mother. They can be reached by phone at 855-2-EMBRACE (855.236.2722). Their primary social worker, Renee, can also be reached via email.

One other possibility, which I realize she may not be at all interested in, would be if you would offer to adopt her baby. Perhaps if you made the offer it would help convince her that she is not alone in this and that you really are there both for her and for her baby. It will also help her realize how important this baby is to you, that this is not just her decision and something that won't affect other people, but that this is your grandchild that this is about, someone you will love and care for if she will let you.

However, the above suggestions will only be relevant if she changes her mind. And in terms of that, as you write, she needs to be emotionally convinced, not intellectually convinced. I want to share with you an email I recently received. It was from a woman who was writing about her abortion over twenty years ago. She sent her piece since she thought that perhaps someone else might be able to read it and learn from her mistakes. Perhaps if your daughter would be willing to read this she will see some of the ramifications of what she is considering, and the lifelong effects it will have on her.

The worst day of my life was waking up that day in the hospital. I had murdered my child. The pain and devastation cut me to the core. In that moment I realized I had made the most terrible mistake I could ever have made. Worse still was that I couldn't undo my decision. There was no turning back. There was no second chance. No one talked to me about options or tried to discourage me from making this decision. No one explained the horrible void within that I would feel and the regret I would experience for the rest of my life. There are so many unanswered questions that may remain so forever.

Understanding the long reaching ramifications of my choice to give up my unborn child, I would have chosen differently. Regardless that the father was an alcoholic, I see now that each soul has to make its own way. That child may have found its path away from that volatile trait. I may have grown stronger through that birth rather than the one I had nine years later.

I've wondered so many times about the son I let go, if having let that one go was the reason I never got a chance to have a son again. Were all the miscarriages, the losses of my unborn children which occurred later, the result of that decision or something more?

Clearly hindsight is 20/20, but had I truly known the impact that decision would have on the rest of my life, how it shaped my future, I would have given birth to my baby boy. I never even gave him, or myself, a chance.

I pray your daughter finds the strength to deal with this challenge and to bring this baby into the world. Please keep me posted.